Wednesday, June 24, 2015

City Puts Back Families&Education Levy Funding

Update 2:  I'll have some analysis of why the City may have put the money back (it's not normally their way) but if you have some thoughts, please let us know.  (Also, a huge shout-out to PTA President Chandra Hampson and the Sand Point Elementary community who were fairly relentless on this issue.)

 I'm putting the Mayor's letter to Sand Point at the end of this thread; Emerson received a similar one.  The letter had some language that confused me so I wrote to the DEEL office and here are the Q&As:

1) He says in the first paragraph:
"That said, the collaboration with the District in hiring a new principal at Emerson/Sand Point..."
Who is the Mayor referring to about collaboration?  Is that with the City or that the District collaborated with parents? 
If he means the City, could you explain the details of when that happened and what form that collaboration took?
The District invited the City to participate in the principal interview process at Sand Point and Emerson, along with school staff, the SPS Executive Director, and parents.
2)  What's an "on-boarding process?"
Schools teams will participate in workshops early Fall provided to schools receiving Levy funding that are either new or have new leadership teams. Workshop topics include but are not limited to:
  • Levy 101 – This will cover basic contract and program requirements and expectations. This will cover the roles and responsibilities of school team members overseeing interventions funded by the Levy.
  • Data Access and Use – We are partnering with school district staff to provide training on accessing and utilizing District generated reports that schools can use to help inform instruction and determine how to implement continues improvement practices for programs serving students.
3)  What's a "high-performing Levy principal?"  Do you mean another SPS principal that has a F&E levy grant and is doing well at their school? 
Yes. We will try to pair the new principals with a principal experienced in implementing interventions funded by the Levy and whose school is showing progress on performance measures such as students meeting standard or making growth on math and reading.

I'll just say that I do NOT like that the district is now allowing outside entities to 
have a voice on principal assignments in exchange for grant money.  

They do this at South Shore (allowing LEV private interviews with all principal candidates for South Shore) and now they allowed input from DEEL for Sand Point and Emerson.

Principal selection and placement is the duty of the Superintendent and the Board.  I believe the District is going down a very slippery slope because one day, Bill Gates will come a'calling.  He gives a lot of money so why can't he have a say?

End of update 2.

 Update: still waiting for more details.

This was the photo at Sand Point's Facebook page:

End of update

I don't know all the details but apparently this issue of pulling/reducing the Families&Education levy grant funding that was happening to Sand Point Elementary and Emerson Elementary went all the way to the Mayor's desk.

And today, he put it back.

I hope to get details soon.

Mayor Murray's Letter

June 18, 2015

Dan Warren, Principal 

Sand Point Elementary School 
6208 60th Ave NE 
Seattle, WA 98115

RE: Letter of Funding Intent-Sand Point Elementary School Innovation Funding for 2015-16 SY

Dear Principal Warren:

I am sending this letter in response to your request that Sand Point Elementary receives the full Families and Education Levy (Levy) Elementary Innovation grant for the 2015-16 school year. The purpose of the Levy is to provide struggling students with the needed academic and social, emotional, family, and health supports to be successful in school. In our experience, strong and stable leadership in a school is critical for the successful implementation of these supports and is a condition for first year schools receiving this grant. That said, the collaboration with the District in hiring a new principal at Sand Point, and the strength of the school community has demonstrated a strong commitment to support Levy-funded services to students during the school's leadership transition next year.

I am pleased to notify you that, at my direction, the Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) now intends to award the full Families and Education Levy (Levy) Elementary Innovation grant to Sand Point Elementary School for the 2015-16 school year based on implementation of the following conditions listed below:

Conditions of Award

• New principal and, if available, the Executive Director meet with DEEL staff in early July to do briefintroduction to the Levy grant, review draft plan, and discuss timeline for making any programmaticor budget changes; and

• New principal and school team agree to Levy award guidance and expectations during this transitionyear that includes an on-boarding process.

Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) Elementary Consultants will assist with the transition of the new principal and team by providing the following additional supports:

• Seek out a high-performing Levy principal to serve as a mentor/coach to the new principal

• Provide additional access to support, particularly within the first year of implementation. Potential

areas of focus would be:

» Structure and format of Levy team meetings

» Role of Levy coordinator

» Best practices for incorporating Levy work into the total scope of the school's vision, mission and work

»- Development of progress-monitoring systems

»- Problem-solving Levy-related topics

The section below describes how the 2015-16 school year funds are structured, limitations regarding the use of Levy funds, and the charging of indirect costs.

Budget Summary:

• Your total 2015-16 SY Levy award is $318,000 (75% issued as base pay and 25% contingent

upon meeting performance targets that we'll set in July).

• Seattle Public Schools' indirect has already been deducted from the award total. You may earn the

entire amount itemized below.

• You will budget $238.500 for 2015-16 SY (base pay) and then have access to $79,500 in performance pay once earned.

• Levy "base pay" must be used for supplemental educational supports and cannot be used for supplanting of District resources or state Basic Education funding.

• Summary of your 2015-16 SY Levy award:

2015-16 SY Levy Innovation Award Amount

                                                  Contract Limit

Base Budget (75%)                         $238,500

Performance Pay (25%)                      79,500

--- TOTAL BUDGET:                     $318,000
Please contact Isabel Munoz-Colon at or 206-674-7657 with any questions.

Thank you for all that you do to support Seattle's students, and we look forward to working with you in the upcoming school year.


Mayor Edward B. Murray

City of Seattle


Another parent said...

Wow, that's good news from him for a change.

Anonymous said...

I guess he didn't want to look like a huge weasel

SP Squirrel

Anonymous said...

Good for Mayor Murray. But -- I still think that there are some "conversations" that need to be had -- either at the Board level, the Superintendent level (but I don't trust Dr. Nyland to be able to carry this off) or the "concerned citizen" level regarding the boundaries between the City and the District -- and the fair (unfair) use of money as a stick to interfere with District policies and management.


Anonymous said...

Some good news for a change!


Robert Cruickshank said...

The details matter, but this suggests that pressure works - and the public is now aware that the City hasn't been using F&E Levy funds in the way voters intended.

mirmac1 said...

News flash. Political dick wads are afraid of bad press.

What a revelation.

Watching said...

I'm looking forward to hearing details. Voters would not have approved of the city holding-back dollars from Sandpoint Elementary. Thanks to all those that worked to support Sandpoint.

Now, if only Middle College were permitted to remain open.

Anonymous said...

Why couldn't the same pressure be put on Murray to keep Middle College open using Families and Education Levy money?

-- Ivan Weiss

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am pondering whether to eliminate some comments because again, the policy is no name calling. I, too. do not like how some people at City Hall work but I'm not going to call them names.

Please do not do this at this thread or any other. There are more artful ways to call people out about their professional efforts.

Ivan, the problem there is probably that for Sand Point/Emerson, these were City dollars. The Mayor would probably defer to the Superintendent on Middle College.

What should be happening is a refusal on the part of the Board to accept that Nyland is saying Middle College is NOT a program. If ever there were a program, it's Middle College.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, Can you please clarify the program vs. non program aspect of Middle College, and how that impacts Nyland's actions? Nyland's letter to the school's families, as posted on the West Seattle Blog, starts with these two sentences (bold added):

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of impending closure of the Middle College High Point program. The Middle College High Point program has operated in space leased from the High Point Neighborhood House.

Sure SOUNDS like a program...


mirmac1 said...

Pardon me Melissa. Sometimes my cynicism just makes me blurt out naughty things.

If Middle College is an "administrative program decision", and not a move, then why did previous moves show up on the pathetic excuse of the program placement report?

Chris S. said...

Thanks Melissa for leaving the comment, it brightened my morning. Creativity and retro-style insults should get brownie points, and although we are aware of the context, it was a generalization, not directed at an individual. :)

Anonymous said...

With our Mayor's pet project (Da Tunnel) in trouble he's looking for any cover he can find. He knows he can probably kiss his 930 million dollar transportation levy good bye unless a miracle happens! Talk is, several project engineers believe the machine will never complete the boring process and now all the players want immunity from responsibility by trying to blame all past and current issues on the well casing incident. The oversight team has been dismissed, because no one really want's to hear their concerns. Cost over-runs are approaching 300 million will continue climbing.

How many schools can we build for $300 + million, how many new teachers can we pay with $300,000,000?

Da Tunnel

Melissa Westbrook said...

Da Tunnel, I do wonder at the speed at which the Mayor works, almost as if he wants to 1) be able to say "look at all I've done" without anyone wondering if things truly got "done" and 2) to try to get a few wins out of many projects.

At this point, I'm not voting for the $900M+ levy. Too big and I've seen how the City uses money for schools and I'm not sure I would trust them with doing what they say they will.

Better to break it up in to a series of levies so we truly know what we are voting for.

Watching said...

I won't be voting for Murray's $930M transportation package, either. I'm not confident Murray, Burgess et. al have the capacity to implement their projects.

In addition to the prek levy, parks levy and transportation levy, Murray will be asking for police and housing levy funding. Murray wasn't interested in levy funding and bad press.

Anonymous said...

I guess the City thought no one would notice the March meeting minutes from the FEL advisory committee. It was a phenomenally bad decision to reduce the grants awarded to both Emerson and Sandpoint who's applications were of such high quality that Holly Miller referenced them. It's a case of being beaten back by your own words. Also, go take a peak at Emerson's Facebook page. Pictures of a Burgess visit to the school posted very close to the time the school received the bad news of the grant reduction. Very very bad optics.

I am so happy that both schools had their FEL grants restored. The Mayor wants to be seen as the hero here but DEEL is his creation.

Longtime Lurker

Anonymous said...

Well, the mayor is if nothing else a "political animal" and could probably see that the bad vibes from that action far outweighed the gamesmanship behind it (presumably). I'm never voting for another levy in this city again. Ever. I have zero trust in the leadership of this city. If I were a SPS Board member, I'd be looking for ways out of any entanglements with them. They are not a gift horse to cover funding gaps but a trojan one with less than honorable intentions.


mirmac1 said...

And can we just put Charles Wright, Cashel Toner, and Clover Codd on the city payroll already? That might eat into Murray's coffee fund though...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mirmac1, I have some interesting e-mails that show me that Wright must spend half his time with the City/Alliance. I have no idea who he really works for.

mirmac1 said...

Let's plan on doing something about that after the new board is on board in December....

Confirmed said...

The city sat in on Sandpoint's principal hiring team. Who was the exact person? I'm not sure. Here is how it looks: Parents, teachers and the city with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Do you think the voices of all are equal?

Yes, the city has indeed over-stepped their boundaries and are using the Family and Education Levy inappropriately.

BTW: Does Cashel Toner work for the city/Gates Foundation or school district?

Anonymous said...

When will the tunnel from the Gates foundation building to city hall be completed?

Da Tunnel

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I will put up the letter the Mayor sent to Sand Point and Emerson (identical).

There was language that implied the City had been part of the principal selection and if that is truly going on, it needs to stop. There is NO grant worth taking ownership of this district from the Superintendent and the elected School Board.

Confirmed said...

"When will the tunnel from the Gates foundation building to city hall be completed?"

Good one!

Confirmed said...

The tunnel should also be extended from the Gates Foundation to the White House and U.S. Department of Education. Gate's dollars flow in all directions.

Anonymous said...

DEEL is sounding an awful lot like DFER....
Back door mayoral governance of Seattle Public Schools is not making me happy,


Watching said...

OMG (!!)

"Yes. We will try to pair the new principals with a principal experienced in implementing interventions funded by the Levy and whose school is showing progress on performance measures such as students meeting standard or making growth on math and reading."

Principals have a lot of work on their plate. Now, the city is dictating principal workloads!! This has to stop.

The city is using Family and Education dollars, and following the model created by S. Shore and League of Education Foundation. In addition to principal hiring , LEV Foundation wants to approve school budgets. Do we know if the city wants to approve school budgets, too?

The city has the capacity to provide schools with hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I don't believe all voices are equal.